Low-income students and families of color are now working with researchers to understand the high school drop-out crisis, find ways to end the crisis and explore “real schools.”Responding to the recent Los Angeles Times series “The Vanishing Class,” which examined the high rate of students dropping out from Birmingham High School, Community Asset Development Re-defining Education (CADRE), a South Los Angeles parent organization, and Justice Matters, a research and policy organization, are collaborating on a multi-tiered grassroots research project that is studying the problem from the inside. The project aims to find ways to keep students in school. Research will be informed by data from the so-called “vanishing class” of low-income students and parents of color. It will also examine Southern California high schools with demographics that are similar to those of Birmingham High School, which was featured in the Times series, but have high graduation rates. Specifically, Justice Matters researchers will focus on schools cited in the Harvard Civil Rights Project report, “Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis in California,” which have graduation rates as high as 95 percent and who also work with a large population of low-income students of color and English learner students.“It is obvious that parents are the missing link in this equation, which means that we must be part of the solution, maybe in ways never before imagined,” according to Naomi Haywood, a core member of CADRE and a parent of children in South Los Angeles schools. CADRE will document the stories and insights of the parents of the “vanishing” students in South Los Angeles schools. Results of the community-based tier of this research effort will be released later this year.CADRE and Justice Matters hope to learn whether the students are in fact, “vanishing” or being evicted, in effect, by a school system that does too little to support, engage or embrace them. Justice Matters is a non-profit research and policy institute that focuses on creating racially just schools for low-income students and families of color in California. CADRE is a grassroots campaign to encourage and promote parent leadership to ensure that all children receive a solid education regardless of where they live.
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